The speculations have subsided and the cat is out of the bag, Valentino Rossi has made a switch from Yamaha to Ducati for 2011 season. The Doctor and the Italian team have signed a two year contract. The current world champion will partner Nicky Hayden next year, and will also lead Ducati’s challenge in the 1000cc Moto GP world championship in 2012.
Ducati Motor Holding president Gabriele Del Torchio said: “We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011. He is a paragon of excellence in the world of motorcycling, coherent with our Italian company, which is a standard-bearer for “made in Italy” excellence. These are key values for success in technology, design and sportsmanship. In addition to the strong and passionate intent of both parties, this agreement has been made possible by the committed support of our shareholder Investindustrial and all the sponsors associated with the Ducati Marlboro Team, sponsors which have believed in this opportunity and share and support our choices.”
Ducati Corse technical guru Filippo Preziosi, said: “Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions. Until the Valencia GP he will remain a competitor, one so great that he has always given a special value to our victories, but as soon as he rides the Ducati for the first time, we will work together on every single detail that will develop a bike capable of showing his huge talent. Working with Valentino is one of the most exciting things for every engineer and it’s good to know we will have this great opportunity next season.”
However no word has been said by Rossi, Yamaha or Ducati about the future of Rossi’s crew. Since Ducati has confirmed that Casey Stoner’s crew won’t be of service once the Australian rider moves to Respol Honda next year, it is expected that Rossi will take his crew to Ducati, led by Australian Jerry Burgess.
The nine times world champion released a short hand written statement after Chezch Republic Grand Prix at Brno, which translates as,
“It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years. Many things have changed since that far-off time in 2004, but especially ‘she’, my M1, has changed.
At that time (2003) she was a poor middle-grid position MotoGP bike, derided by most of the riders and the MotoGP workers. Now, after having helped her to grow and improve, you can see her smiling in her garage, courted and admired, treated as the ‘top of the class’. The list of the people that made this transformation possible is very long, but I would like to thank anyway Masao Furusawa, Masahiko Nakajima and ‘my’ Hiroya Atsumi, as representatives of all the engineers that worked hard to change the face of our M1.
Then Jeremy Burgess and all my guys in the garage, who took care of her with love on all the tracks of the world and also all the men and women that have worked in the Yamaha team during these years. Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished.
Unfortunately even the most beautiful love stories finish, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories, like when my M1 and I kissed for the first time on the grass at Welkom, when she looked straight in my eyes and told me ‘I love you!’”
A statement from Yamaha reads,” Valentino has played a huge part in the history of Yamaha and he will always remain an important part of Yamaha’s heritage. Yamaha is extremely grateful for Valentino’s contributions to its racing successes over the past seven years and it would like to wish him the very best in his future racing endeavours. Yamaha will be putting all its efforts into ensuring a successful and happy end to the partnership over the remaining races.”
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said, “On behalf of the Yamaha Motor Group, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the amazing seven years that we have spent together. Valentino joined Yamaha in 2004 at a moment when Yamaha was struggling in road racing after eleven seasons without a championship victory. Valentino’s victory at his first GP race for Yamaha in South Africa in 2004 was an incredible moment and was just the first of many more race wins that have thrilled MotoGP fans and Yamaha fans around the world. His unsurpassed skills as a racer and a development rider enabled him to win four MotoGP world titles to date with us and helped Yamaha develop the YZR-M1 into the ‘the bike of reference’ for the MotoGP class. There have been so many wonderful experiences and victories and we are very proud to have been able to make history together. Whilst we regret Vale’s decision to move on, at the same time we f fully respect his decision to search for a new challenge and we wish him the very best for 2011 and beyond. For the remaining eight races of 2010 Valentino will remain a Yamaha Factory rider. As such he will continue to benefit from our full support and we hope and expect to see some more race wins with him ‘in blue’ before the season is over.”
It would be interesting to see, if Rossi can turn the table for Ducati like he did for Yamaha in 2004, though situations are quite different at this time as well as will this movement will have any effect on the remaining races of the season.